The Renault F1 team has issued an apology after it was dealt a two-year suspended ban for fixing the result of last year’s Singapore Grand Prix – an act that the FIA lauded as being of “unparalleled severity”.
The French team was hauled before a World Motorsport Council hearing in Paris on Monday where the FIA heard how it had instructed Nelson Piquet Jnr. to crash his car deliberately to help Fernando Alonso win the race – allegations that the team did not dispute.
The FIA had a raft of punishments at its disposal, including permanent exclusion from the sport, but in light of the fact that Renault accepted the allegations – and swiftly axed team boss Flavio Briatore and engineering director Pat Symonds – the FIA dealt the team the softer penalty of a two year suspended ban, reserving a tougher life ban sentence for Briatore and a five year ban for Symonds.
Renault said in a statement: “Today, we fully accept the decision of the Council. We apologize unreservedly to the F1 community in relation to this unacceptable behaviour. We sincerely hope that we can soon put this matter behind us and focus constructively on the future. We will issue further information in the next few days.”
“By way of background, as a result of our own enquiries, we informed the FIA last week that we would not defend the charges and we accepted our responsibilities in relation to the incident in Singapore and we immediately took appropriate action inside the team.
The FIA’s verdict reads: “The World Motor Sport Council considers Renault F1’s breaches relating to the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix to be of unparalleled severity.
“Renault F1’s breaches not only compromised the integrity of the sport but also endangered the lives of spectators, officials, other competitors and Nelson Piquet Jr. himself. The World Motor Sport Council considers that offences of this severity merit permanent disqualification from the FIA Formula One World Championship.
“However, having regard to the points in mitigation mentioned above and in particular the steps taken by Renault F1 to identify and address the failings within its team and condemn the actions of the individuals involved, the WMSC has decided to suspend Renault F1’s disqualification until the end of the 2011 season. The World Motor Sport Council will only activate this disqualification if Renault F1 is found guilty of a comparable breach during that time.”